April 30th - Gordy's (final) update - because he is home!
On Friday, April 29th, Gordy left the U of MN Hospital. We arrived home to our driveway decorated by the girls from next door and the warm welcome of Charissa and Jake, Curtis and Riley. When I asked Gordy how he would describe being home he said, "Glorious." I asked him if he remembered using that word earlier in the week to describe his washcloth bath. He did not, but said, "This is not the kind of word I usually use." Apparently he's acquiring a new vocabulary from this experience! We have a long road ahead of us tending to post heart surgery, stroke, vision, cardiac rehab and a few other issues, but we are on the journey and one step at a time, one day at a time we will discover our new normal. Please pray for patience and perseverance as we navigate this journey together. Gordy's greatest concern is his vision--it is the biggest unknown as to whether he will regain full use of his right eye or not. It's been difficult for Gordy's eyes to focus on reading, something he had hoped to do while in this stage of recovery. He'll be seeking help from a neuro-opthamologist, along with a handful of other specialists, in the days ahead and we pray they will be helpful in restoring Gordy to full health. Thanks again for your care for us over these past couple weeks. Your prayers and cards have meant so much.
4.28.22 update from Pastor Anne
Gordy successfully worked on climbing and going down stairs this morning with our incredible occupational therapist, Wayne. Really. You have no idea how grateful I am for his instruction, wisdom and care for Gordy. He is the only medical team member who has followed us from the ICU to the 6th floor and it really matters to have that kind of consistency when it comes to building strength and skills that will help Gordy get home. He is beginning a new medication today to prevent future strokes and I'm guessing they'll want to track how he does on this medicine before he is released. Yesterday had some ups and downs with his heart pacing but things straightened out later in the day and they've remained consistent and strong today. This should help move him closer to discharge. The biggest news (in addition to stairs!) is that his hiccups have finally stopped. Thanks for your prayers that cover all of the minute and significant details of Gordy's recovery. They carry us.
4.26.22 update from Pastor Anne
Tuesday was a day filled with many steps forward. Our favorite occupational therapist, Wayne, played a pivotal role in Gordy's care today. He helped Gordy take a washcloth bath--while standing the whole time! This was the first time Gordy had "bathed" (using the word loosely) in eight days. I got such a kick out of Gordy saying he felt "glorious". He never uses that word and certainly not to describe feeling clean! Gordy then got his chest tubes out. We had hoped it would result in his hiccups leaving, but they remain, at least as of this update. We then got word that a bed opened on the cardiac floor and soon after, Gordy walked with Wayne up to the 6th floor while I pushed the wheelchair, just in case. This was Gordy's longest walk thus far and a great encouragement for all. This move represents a significant step in Gordy's healing and recovery. I am hopeful he will soon be ready to return home. The cardiac unit at the U has mostly double rooms so we are adjusting to having a roommate and not having one on one nursing care. (Gordy's actually adjusting just fine. Who knew I would actually miss the ICU?) Our son, Curtis, is in town and he had a great time watching the Timberwolves game with Gordy this evening--in spite of another horrific 4th quarter upset. I thoroughly enjoyed an evening away from the hospital--including a walk in our neighborhood before sunset and hugs from the two darling girls next door who ran out to greet me before their bedtime. As this Tuesday comes to an end, I look forward to what tomorrow holds. And that says a lot. We witnessed answers to prayer today. Thank you for your role in making that happen--and keep praying about those hiccups please!
4.25.22 update from Pastor Anne
3 Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way;
4 say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come..he will come to save you.” Isaiah 35:3-4
These words from this past Sunday's worship have stayed with me over the past couple days. And Pastor Mike's message has reminded us both that flourishing for the Christ follower is possible even in our desert places.
Gordy's Monday was filled with information and activity as we had visits from hematologists, neurologist, cardiologist, physical therapist and occupational therapist. Gordy is still coming to terms with partial vision in his right eye from the stroke and while we hope and pray in time his full vision will return, we are learning more about next steps for care and rehab for his heart and vision. Gordy's heart is doing really well a week after surgery. Great news! The next step is to get his chest tubes removed. This will happen when his drainage decreases around his heart. Maybe even tomorrow. His medical team is thinking his relentless hiccups may end once the tubes are removed. They are working on a medication plan to ensure there's no more clotting in his veins or arteries after we leave the hospital. Gordy is getting stronger with more walks, eating more food and sleeping less. He was officially released from ICU status today though he is still in his ICU room due to a shortage of beds on the cardiac floor.
Three prayer requests for Gordy: 1) Pray he will receive the same kind of cardiac therapy needed, even though he's not on the cardiac floor. We both want him home but Gordy needs to be both strong enough physically and have the basic skills to do life at home. Therapy is key at this point in the recovery. 2) Pray for Gordy's heart and mind to stay strong amidst the ups and downs of this journey. 3) Pray the hiccups would stop--permanently. It is painful to watch day after day after day. I cannot imagine being the one who has to tolerate them. One other thing. Over the past few days we've heard over and over again from nurses, aides and residents who've been with us on this journey, what a pleasure it has been to provide care for Gordy. I'm not surprised but grateful they catch a glimpse of what a wonderful man Gordy is.
4.24.22 update from Pastor Anne
Gordy had an uneventful night--which is good news. He has been off the external pacemaker for 24 hours which means he was able to get the wired pulled earlier this afternoon that connected the external pacemaker to his heart. This is also really encouraging news. Every step forward offers encouragement. He can now get the MRI the neurology team has ordered but Gordy could not have until the wire was removed. Now we wait. Who knew there are only 2 MRI machines at the U of MN Hospital (East Bank) and a lot more people want MRI's than there is time in a day?! I was going to wait until after the MRI to offer an update but it will likely be sometime in the early hours of tomorrow morning so I thought I'd offer this update now.
The images from the MRI will not necessarily change Gordy's treatment while in the hospital but will offer more clarity on what has happened in the part of his brain that is impacting his vision in his right eye. This info will help us down the road with Gordy's ongoing care. In addition, a hematologist will be stepping into Gordy's care team tomorrow to help discern what happened and how to prevent it going forward. One of the residents said today, "You have a LOT of people looking after you, Gordy. You are in good hands." This gives both of us great comfort and encouragement. Probably the biggest news of the day is Gordy's two walks. He just came back from a loop around the back half of unit 4E. I was soooo encouraged by this significant series of steps (literally) forward. He's now resting but this kind of activity is vital for gaining strength, getting out of ICU and onto a floor with more rehabilitation and needed therapy to get him ready to come home. As his unofficial PT/OT/rehab therapist today, I plan to force one more walk before bedtime and that will mark the end of a really good day. I've given up projecting when he will leave ICU but I sense it is soon, based on his tubes removed and the progress I see. Besides concerns stated above related to his heart and brain, I'd say the other area to pray for would be his hiccups. He's been hiccuping off and on (mostly on) since he got out of surgery last Tuesday. Today it's been more or less nonstop. Gordy says he's getting used to it, but it sounds very uncomfortable. I believe it is the power of prayer that is giving us not only peace but encouragement on this Sunday as we wait. Thank you for your part in Gordy's healing.
4.23.22 update from Kate Makosky
We want to share some setbacks from this afternoon so the First Covenant community knows how to pray. Earlier this afternoon Gordy mentioned to his cardiologist that he was experiencing vision impairment on his right side. His cardiologist called for a neurology consult and a CT scan to see if Gordy experienced a stroke. This CT scan showed that Gordy has experienced a moderate-sized stroke that affects vision in his right eye sometime earlier (perhaps even on Friday). It appears that he may have a higher risk of strokes moving forward.
Pastor Anne and Gordy are thankful that he was not out of the ICU when this happened. His care team in the ICU knows him well and are responding quickly. Gordy will be followed by both the cardiologist and neurologist ICU teams. These teams are working together to create a plan to care for Gordy and track him closely. He will remain in the ICU tonight as they care for him.
Some ways that you can be praying: wisdom for both of these care teams as they make a plan to care for Gordy in the coming hours and days. Pray for protection around Gordy - that there would be no more strokes, that his symptoms will resolve, that his will receive the rest needed for his body to continue healing. Pray for Pastor Anne as she is with Gordy during this, for peace and strength, and a tangible sense of God's presence with her. Pray for their whole family during this time. The family is so appreciative of your support and prayers, and know that God hears and responds to all of these prayers and concerns.
4.23.22 update from Pastor Anne
Last night I went home fairly discouraged as things did not head in the direction we had hoped yesterday. There was talk about inserting a more permanent pacemaker if Gordy’s heartbeat did not start to self-regulate as he was dependent on the external pacemaker all day. Gordy was so weak and unable to do much more than sleep. He’s had no appetite and so I’ve been forcing him to sip Ensure each hour I’m here. There was talk about a feeding tube and I know that’s not what Gordy would want. I arrived early enough this morning to be here for the doctors rounds and learned Gordy had turned a corner last night, beginning with his bowels starting to work. His heart started beating regularly on its own and he has not needed the external pacemaker at all this morning. He ate his entire bowl of Rice Krispies. And Jillian is Gordy’s nurse for one more day—until Gordy moves, as they’ve given the green light for him to move out of ICU sometime today. ALL of this is an incredible answer to prayer. Gordy remains very weak but the fact he will be moving to the cardiac floor means he will soon begin getting therapy to help get him stronger. Please pray this transition goes well and that his heart continues to beat regularly on its own. Thank you so much.
4.22.22 update from Pastor Anne
Today has not had quite the steps forward we had hoped for but I'm told not to be overly concerned. Late yesterday afternoon Gordy went into AFib which is common for people who've had mitral valve repairs or replacements. Then early this morning he went into AFib with RVR. Bottom line, Gordy's has an irregular heartbeat that they are both monitoring and regularly discerning if or how to treat it. He currently has an external pacemaker that is helping to regulate his heart rate. Because of this, he is staying in the ICU another day/night. I am grateful for this extra attention. Gordy has had the same nurse, Jillian, three of his four days thus far and this too, is a source of great encouragement and comfort. She knows more about the heart than I can begin to understand and cares for Gordy so well. And I enjoy sharing close quarters with her throughout the day, while Gordy spends much of it sleeping. Gordy's twin sister, Karlene, is spending the afternoon with us and she is an encouragement too. Please pray that Gordy's heartbeat would regulate itself so that he can move on to the next chapter of his healing. As always, thanks for your concern and your prayers.
4.21.22 update from Pastor Anne
The day has gotten better by the hour.
I arrived at Gordy’s room this morning to word that he was not moving out of ICU today, which had been the plan. A few of his vitals were not where the surgical team wanted them to be so out of an abundance of caution he’s staying another day. The occupational therapist came this morning to help Gordy walk for the first time but after standing for a minute or so his blood pressure tanked and he was out for about 30 seconds. It was frightening for me to witness but they assure me it happens. Gordy slept for the rest of the morning and into the afternoon. The OT returned around 2pm and Gordy tried walking again—this time he was successful! Gordy was so relieved and so was I. He’s resting again but in good spirits after a big accomplishment. I’m so thankful for Wayne, his OT, who cared for Gordy so competently and graciously. We so appreciate your prayers that hold us both.
Gordy is resting after a (to be expected) sleepless night after surgery. Please pray about Gordy's oxygen levels and blood pressure -- both drop when he tries to sit up. These issues aren't uncommon after this type of surgery. Please pray that these would stabilize so that Gordy can sit up and begin moving around. Gordy's team of doctors has been in to see him and overall they share that he is doing very well. Gordy will be in the ICU for at least another day until he is able to breathe on his own. Both Gordy and Pastor Anne are so grateful for your prayer and support during this time. We will continue to provide updates as we are able.
We are so thankful to provide this good report for Gordy's surgery today -- the bypass surgery went well and his mitral valve was able to be repaired (not replaced!). Gordy's surgeon reports that things went very well. Gordy will be moving into the ICU for this first phase of recovery. The family is thankful for your support and prayers, we'll continue to provide updates on this page as they are available.
We wanted to let the church family know of a prayer concern related to Gordy Swanson, Pastor Anne's husband. On Tuesday, April 19th Gordy will be undergoing open heart surgery at the University of Minnesota to repair (hopefully) or replace his mitral valve and for bypass surgery. Gordy and Pastor Anne are grateful to have learned about Gordy's heart situation before he experienced a life threatening health crisis. They are also grateful for access to excellent medical care at the U of MN. Pastor Anne will be taking time off to support Gordy through his surgery, hospitalization and his first days of rehabilitation and healing at home. We will be providing updates on Gordy's surgery and recovery here, similar to how we provided updates for Dan Makosky during his health crisis.
Your prayers are much appreciated for Gordy, Pastor Anne as well as daughter and son-in-law, Charissa and Jake Verdoorn, and son, Curtis Pederson as they journey through this next chapter together.
If you are interested in helping provide meals for the family during this time, please email Judy Kline for information. If you have a pastoral care emergency during this time, please contact Pastor Mike at (651)774-0344 x218.